On Tuesday, Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced he would call for a Senate vote on S1, the For the People Act, before the end of the month. While Minority Leader Sen. McConnell (R-Ky) and his Republican colleagues are sure to block the vote using the filibuster, Schumer hopes the GOP’s obstruction will help convince Sen. Manchin (D-W.Va.) to change his mind and support S1 because bipartisanship is not really an option.
Manchin has been demanding that the bill must have bipartisan buy-in. And, in fact, it does, just not in Congress. In a May opinion poll, 69 percent of Americans, including 52 percent of Republicans, support the bill. In Manchin’s home state of West Virginia, an overwhelming 79 percent of the people favor the legislation.
Sen. Schumer has indicated that “Failure is not an option, voting is too sacred.” He has also explained, “Now, is it possible we might change a few things here and there? We’re gonna do it. We had discussions with Sen. Manchin and they’re continuing.”
What makes the passage of this legislation even more critical is the recent outbreak of deadly threats against election officials and volunteers across the country. On June 11, Reuters issued a special report: “Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers.” Its investigation found that “Trump’s baseless voter-fraud accusations have had dark consequences for U.S. election leaders and workers, especially in contested states such as Georgia, Arizona and Michigan. Some have faced protests at their homes or been followed in their cars. Many have received death threats.” This is another dangerous effort by Trump loyalists to undermine our democracy.
Fortunately, the Justice Department is taking these threats very seriously. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the Department will double its civil rights enforcement division staff within the next 30 days and take other actions to protect Americans’ right to the ballot. While supporting the For the People Act, Garland stated the Department “would not wait to enforce voting rights while lawmakers fine-tune those pieces of legislation…(and) is going to investigate and prosecute any violation of federal law against” election officials and volunteers.
While Washington officials are doing the right thing, we cannot leave this crucial fight up to them. On Thursday, I attended a Zoom gathering of 15 or so New Mexicans who want to press for the passage of HR1/S1 to protect our right to vote. The meeting focused on initiating a statewide effort to participate in a national campaign urging Congress to approve these major election reforms to save our democracy. This national campaign is being led by the Declaration for American Democracy coalition and Indivisible, two high profile groups with large, dedicated memberships.
The New Mexico Voting Rights committee will meet again via ZOOM this Tuesday, June 15 at 4 p.m. (MDT) to develop a plan of action. We need you to get involved, before it’s too late. The right to vote and protect our democracy hangs in the balance. Don’t wait. Register to attend this important meeting at
Bruce Berlin, J.D.
(Note: Due to other commitments, I will not be able to post a blog next week but will be back again the following week.)
A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.), the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics (now RepresentUs New Mexico), a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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